"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tuna Fillets with Pecan Butter Sauce and Red Wine-Poached Pear and Custard Tart

OK, technically this recipe is called Catfish Fillets with Pecan Butter Sauce, but tuna is one of the fish the list as a substitute and that's what I had in the freezer. I have made it with catfish, and my major complaint about it was that the catfish tasted terrible. I don't know why it suffers from its trip north, but the catfish I've purchased here in New England always tastes like mud to me, which is how I just thought it tasted until a real Georgia woman (my friend Elizabeth's mother)complained bitterly that the catfish up here tasted terrible.

So ok, eat catfish only when you're down south. Otherwise, substitute, substitute, substitute.

I wasn't sure at all that tuna would take to this flouring and egg-dipping process (being a fan of sashimi and all that) but it did just fine, cut into slender fillets. The best, though, was the browned butter and pecan sauce, which was brightened by lemon juice. Dr. S. gobbled his up, Zoritsa (the CNA) followed suite and licked her fingers and the plate with great dramatic flair. I'm sorry to say Mrs. S. has had a diminished appetite lately and so ate very little, but that makes me worry more about her than whether or not the food is spot-on.


After years and years of making pie crust there are a few things I've picked up. One is that when you're using a food processor, go slow with adding the ice water--pulse the machine, and give the water a chance to ball the dough up. You can even leave it a little on the dry side and turn it out on the counter to finish up with the heel of your hand.

Did I take advantage of all this wisdom yesterday? No I didn't. I threw caution to the wind and dumped three tablespoons of water right into the makings for a single crust shell. The result? A very wet, well blended ball of dough that kind of resembled blond clay or some kind of putty you might use for glazing your windows.

Will it be too tough? was my main concern, but since it was a thin tart shell I figured I'd give it a try.

The best thing about this tart was the red wine syrup (ha--I finally found a use for that Concord Grape Wine kicking around the house) and the toasted almonds. The crust was indeed a bit leathery and since it shrank a bit, the custard was almost a non-issue--I did have lots left over. The pears shone through, and if you love pears (especially poached pears) you'll love this tart.

Here is a picture of a poached pear tart that I didn't make, but it sure looks pretty--somebody at Bon Appetit put it together. Next time I make this I'll cut the pears like this--aren't they gorgeous?

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